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Friday, August 16, 2013

The best sushi in the world.

No photos allowed at Sushi Sawada. Above: Cotton napkin designed by Sawada's wife/sous-chef in celebration of spring. We were allowed to take the napkin home and the above is the only photo we have to remind us of this mind-altering meal.
The broiled eel - like a fluflly cloud in the mouth
Photo, courtesy of the Financial Times, showing Sawada and his bad-ass wife.
Picture (from CNN) shows the solid hinoki wood dining counter where most pieces of sushi are placed directly on the wood in front of each guests. Behind Sawada to the right is the amazing in-wall fridge which is completely mechanical: the two compartments at the top hold giant blocks of ice which cool the bottom compartments where beautiful, black laquer drawers contain the fish. The drawers can be placed higher or lower depending on the desired temperature. Behind Sawada to the left is the tea-making set-up including copper pot for boiling water and ladle.
LOCATION: Sushi Sawada, MC Blg, 3/F, 5-9-19 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061
CATEGORY: Omakase sushi 
DRINK: Green tea and draft beer 
WE THINK: Hands down the best sushi we've ever had!
We were recently lucky to secure a lunch reservation at 2-starred, 6-seater sushi bar, Sushi Sawada in Ginza. After some failed attempts at getting a reservation at Sukiyabashi Jiro over the last couple of years, we "settled" for the less famous, but by many accounts even better (and similarly expensive - ca. $350/pers.), Sushi Sawada. Unlike Jiro Sushi, where a meal is over in less than 30 minutes and is strictly "fish over rice", Sawada serves both sashimi and sushi with some fish being aged or slightly seared and the whole experience took almost 2.5 hours. Sawada is a traditionalist in the sense that he uses no modern appliances in the kitchen--even the fridge is mechanical and he sears his fish only with special wood-coals (no gas torch that could leave a slight aftertaste) and many of his recipes are resurrected 300-year old recipes. But the old-school Tokyo sushi establishment considers him too modern--his rice has too much air packed between the grains, is cooked slightly more "al dente" than what is considered normal and has a higher vinegar content. And he is way more relaxed and chatty than most serious sushi chefs. Instead of making us feel like dumb gaijin afraid to ask questions and terrified of dipping our fish in the wrong sauce--or even worse, dipping when not meant to dip--Sawada encouraged us (in his very limited English) to decide for ourselves whether to dip the fish in yuzu, soy sauce, wasabi or salt or any combination. And--breaking with tradition--he has a female sushi chef in the kitchen (the only other person working in the restaurant) who happens to be his wife and a total bad-ass. It's hard to explain how much we loved this meal--the sequence of dishes and the way one flavour led to another, the quality of each piece of fish which was easily the best version of that fish we'd ever had, the tea, the beer, the water, the kitchen counter, the smells, the bathroom, the spending a few hours in heaven. Sadly, we now compare every omakase meal we

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tasty little pony

Beer salami
Fried Whitebait
Map of the island of Bornholm, showing the origin of Pony's produce
Dangerously delicious bread
Pork rillette
Spelt and wheat porridge, roasted chestnuts, duck heart, cranberries and "Veserhav" cheese
Steak tatar with beetroot powder, smoaked veal marrow and rosehip gel
Cod with 6 versions of cabbage, foam and puffed rye
Caramel with jerusalem artichoke cake, milk ice cream and crudite of jerusalem artichoke
LOCATION: Pony, Vesterbrogade 135, Copenhagen, Denmark
CATEGORY: Danish, new nordic
DRINK: Philippe Pacalet, Gevrey-Chambertain
WE THINK: Another slam-dunk from the guys behind Kadeau, this small casual eatery on the outskirts of Vesterbro, Copenhagen, offers great value for money. With a 4-course prix fixe that changes daily, a small selection of a la carte dishes, and a wine list that is heavy on bio-dynamic and natural wines, Pony is another recent addition to the growing field of mid-range, progressive young restaurants in Copenhagen, in the same vein as Relæ. As does its older brother, Kadeau, Pony focuses on produce sourced from the tiny Danish island of Bornholm. With lots of Danish staple ingredients such as rye, cabbage, cod and duck, and with bread and butter so good you crave for it long after leaving Pony, the flavours are unmistakably new Nordic. Nothing too off-beat here, but everything incredibly well conceived, delicious and interesting.